Delegates to the summit came from various African countries and from World Bank, African Development Bank and the United Nations Development Program.
Addressing the participants, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe said the continent has been portrayed by the Western powers as a ‘lost continent’ due to ethnic conflicts and poverty.
"In the 1980s," he said, "Sub Saharan Africa faced gloomy macro-economic and development prospects, stagnant economies and endemic poverty, therefore fueling talk in some quarters as the lost decade while the continent was portrayed as a hopeless one. This was in spite of Africa’s vast wealth of natural resources most of which is suffering from the deterioration of unfair trade practices that came with settler colonialism and appetite for its endowment."
But with the rise of China and other emerging economies in Asia, Mugabe says Africa’s growth is now on an upward curve. He praised the African Capacity Building Foundation for working to improve Africa’s human and institutional capacity..
"This trend only bottomed up when China took off as an emerging economy, and now as a rising superpower," he said. "The African Capacity Building Foundation was created in 1991… I am happy to learn that the ABCF has grown to be a trusted leader in building capacity for Africa’s success in sustainable growth and poverty eradication."
Established 20 years ago, the ACBF aims to build to strengthen Africa’s governments and business communities so sustainable growth and poverty reduction will be possible.
With barely three years to go before the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals, delegates at the meeting emphasized the role of capacity in Africa’s development agenda.
Finance Minister Tendai Biti told participants that a new African narrative was emerging.
"I think over the years you have seen a new Africa coming with numbers of wars reducing, the number of conflicts reducing and a number of democratic elections increasing," he said.
Dr. Frannie Leautier, the Foundation’s Executive Secretary, said since its creation, ACBF has supported projects and programs in 45 African countries, including Zimbabwe.
"In the past 20 years, the Foundation has invested more than 500 million US dollars in capacity development in Africa," she said. "Its action has been most visible and successful in the area of economic policy analysis and management through its support of think-tanks and policy institutes. Across the continent, ACBF has nurtured the growth of these institutes from cradle to current performing organizations."
The theme of the anniversary was ‘The Future of Africa is Now: The Critical Role of Capacity Development.’ The event included a series of learning and knowledge sharing events in several other cities across Africa, including Tunis (Tunisia), Kigali (Rwanda), Malabo (Equitorial Guinea) and Arusha, Tanzania. Similar events were also held in Paris, France.